In keeping with Meridian’s solid track record of producing some of the world’s most influential leaders, another distinguished alumna of a Meridian-led program has been ranked as one of the world’s most powerful leaders. Meridian International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumna, Helen Clark, current Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), ranked 21st on Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2013.
Clark is the first woman to head the UNDP in its history, and was the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand. She participated in a Meridian-led IVLP in 1998, when she was the leader of the Labor Party in the New Zealand Parliament. Following her experience in the IVLP, Clark began her first term as Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1999, and succeeded in achieving significant economic growth and low unemployment, while championing high levels of investment in education and health care, as well as the prosperity of families and older citizens. She also advocated for the development of a multicultural and inclusive society through her efforts to reconcile historical grievances with New Zealand’s indigenous population. As Prime Minister, Clark was a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of former and current women presidents and prime ministers, with the mission to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally to combat issues of significant importance to women.
This year marks Clark’s ninth inclusion on the list, moving her up on the prestigious ranking from 50th in 2011 and 34th in 2012. She was first featured in 2003 during her second of three consecutive terms as Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Perhaps most impressive is Clark’s efforts to promote environmental sustainability and challenge the issue of climate change. One of her foremost goals as Prime Minister was to establish New Zealand as one of the world’s leading nations in addressing these two critical, and she has continued her emphasis on environmental awareness and advocacy throughout her career with the UNDP. Under her leadership, the UNDP has initiated numerous projects centered on the goal of environmental protection, including the Tajikistan Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which aims to strengthen the development and reform of national policy relating to water supply and sanitation management and governance in Tajikistan. Clark also currently heads the UN Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programs and departments working on development issues.
Forbes Magazine, a leading US news source with a focus on finance and technology, publishes an annual list of women in powerful positions throughout the globe, ranked using a combination of their net worth, media presence and impact. The 23012 honorees range from politicians to CEOs to pop culture icons, including Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton musician Beyoncé Knowles, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda Gates, German chancellor Angela Merkel and renowned author J.K. Rowling.